Billed as the first concert by an indie Korean band in Los Angeles, Club Nokia's "BURUDA Concert Ver.1: Hello 10cm" event on January 31, 2014 attracted a devoted audience of young, beaming Koreans (mostly women and couples) who swayed to every beat and laughed at every story that the charistmatic vocalist Kwon Jung-yeol told in Korean between his songs.
10CM, which consists of Kwon and guitarist Yoon Cheol-jong, debuted in 2010, and their first album 1.0 sold more than 200,000 copies -- impressive for indie music fans who mostly download music online. They went on to win “This Year’s Discovery Award” at the 2010 Mnet Asian Music Awards and “Best Pop Song Award” at the 2011 Korean Music Awards. 2.0 was released in 2012, and their single "Fine Thank You and You?" was nominated for Best Band Performance and Song of the Year at the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards.
The Club Nokia space provided for a laid-back atmosphere, perfect for the band's stripped-down set, which sometimes included a supporting bassist, keyboardist and drummer, but often was just Kwon and Yoon performing by themselves. For a couple songs, the two of them got off their stools and sat at the edge of the stage, just to be closer to the fans. Kwon's kazoo that was shaped like a trumpet, which made several appearances, was also a hit. And of course, there was that lucky girl that was brought onstage to be serenaded -- a must-have for any Korean concert.
10CM began the show with the first track off of their second album 2.0, "Mind (마음)," a lulling guitar ballad that set the relaxed, happy-go-lucky tone for the night. The light-hearted entertainment continued with "Smelly Girl (냄새나는 여자)," an atypical love song in which the singer tells his lover that she's just kind of average but has a unique smell that he can't get enough of, and their popular hit "Hug Me (안아줘요)."
Over the course of the night, 10CM managed to go through 26 songs, reminding us of the impressive amount of output that's come out of an indie band that's less than five years old. One memorable moment of the night included their rendition of "Turned Off the TV (TV를 껐네)," a collaboration with the Korean hip hop duo Leessang. However, without Gary of Leessang in attendance, it was up to Yoon Cheol-jong to soft-talk his way through the rapping parts -- to the amusement to the crowd.
Then, there was their rendition of HaHa & 10cm's "Sweet Rice Cake (찹쌀떡)," an amusingly catchy love song that involves shouting "Nobody loves you!" followed by "I love you, I need you, I got you!" (The "Nobody loves you" part sounded much harsher belted out in person, with the energy of live performance, as opposed to on the recorded track, where it might come across as more adorable.)
Next, you could tell that many fans were eagerly awaiting the performance of their popular hit "Americano," which they delivered with panache. Korean music aficionados would know that "Americano" was actually banned by South Korea's Ministry of Gender Equality for "lyrics that were hazardous to a child's concept of a 'clean relationship' with the other sex." The masters-that-be zeroed in on the lyrics: When you're cheating on your girlfriend after a fight, when you're smoking a cigarette after kissing another girl" (that's when you drink Americanos) -- though for many, this is an example of completely unnecessary censorship in Korea. What's funny is "Americano" seems like the most family-friendly song ever, sound-wise. And in true indie fashion, 10cm performed a short, free show at Glendale's The Americana mall at Brand including "Americano." Adorable -- that is, as long as they weren't smoking and cheating on their girlfriends in front of the children.
That was then followed by another one of their hits, "Tonight I'm Afraid of the Dark (오늘 밤은 어둠이 무서워요)."
As the night was clearly winding down, the crowd resisted the notion of the concert coming to an end. Even before the band could pretend to leave the stage for the first time, the audience had already began shouting "Encore!" While Kwon Jung-yeol and the rest of the musicians at least gamely exited in order to fake a dramatic re-entrance, Yoon Cheol-jong didn't even bother getting out of his chair, to the amusement of the crowd.
10CM started the last segment of the night with the melancholy "Goodbye" before fielding song requests from the audience. From there, they did short excerpts of a number of songs -- "Morning Call," "Your Flower (너의 꽃)," "Healing," and "Red Firefly (고추잠자리)" -- before they officially closed off the night with the fitting choice of "I'm Fine, Thank You and You?"
The 10CM concert was promoted by Powerhouse, an Asian American company specializing in bringing your favorite KPop stars to the United States. Recent shows include U-Kiss, Infinite, and B.A.P.
For more on 10CM, go to their official Facebook page.